Almost 10 full minutes into his May 22 show, John Oliver took a breath. “So that,” he said of everything he’d discussed thus far, “is the shortest possible summation of this week.”
Much to Oliver’s obvious frustration, this year’s Last Week Tonight slate has been less focused on deep dives into unexpected topics like dialysis or the Dalai Lama and more about playing constant catch-up with the breakneck pace of news under the Trump administration. It took Oliver 25 minutes to unpack last week’s particularly intense chain of political crises, which also inspired him to bring back his phrase “Stupid Watergate,” which he defined as “a scandal with all the potential ramifications of Watergate, but where everyone involved is stupid and bad at everything.”
Oliver recapped all the major components of the ongoing bombshells coming out of Trump’s recent decision to fire FBI director James Comey, the ensuing reports (and Trump’s admission!) that he did so specifically to ease up the investigation into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia, and how all of the above could affect the future of his administration. When Oliver got to the New York Times report that Trump told Russian officials the “great pressure” on him for possible Russia connections had been “taken off” with firing Comey, Oliver’s eyes practically bugged clear out his head.
"It's almost difficult to believe your ears when you hear something so audaciously corrupt,” Oliver said. “It's like if Hillary Clinton sent an email that said, 'Sup, I did Benghazi.'"
By the time he was finished explaining the gush of Russia news, Fox News’s attempts to play down Trump’s various Russia scandals, the possibility of a Trump impeachment, and even the line of succession (President Orrin Hatch, anyone?), Oliver was exhausted. “This week has drained me,” he admitted.
But Oliver still found time to make a pretty sobering point — and one that sounds pretty familiar, because it was made over and over again throughout Trump’s historically tumultuous campaign. “Why would this be the end of the line for him?” Oliver asked. “Trump has seemed to reach the end of the line on multiple occasions, only for nothing to happen." He then ran down the list of other incidents that once caused people to exclaim that Trump was finished: not immediately disavowing David Duke’s endorsement, insulting the Gold Star Khan family for criticizing him, the Access Hollywood tape that revealed Trump’s cavalier attitude towards sexual assault.
“When it comes to President Trump,” Oliver said, “he's always approaching the end of the line, and it never seems to come.”
Time will tell if this latest round of offenses will finally backfire on Trump — but if Oliver’s right, we can expect “Stupid Watergate” to become a regular Last Week Tonight feature for a while yet.